PhD ClassicsWhen she retired from her teaching career, Lucy Pollard wanted to find something new to do. Since graduating from her first degree many years before, the question of whether she would be able to do a PhD was at the back of her mind, and it was something that she'd always wanted to try. Lucy's husband is a governor at Birkbeck and suggested she looked at the courses on offer. Initially she thought that she would study for an MPhil, and never expected to end up with a doctorate, but found that she enjoyed the research so much, and the supervision was excellent and she ended up staying for five years and completing her PhD in 2010.
Lucy was already aware of the reputation of Birkbeck’s Department of History, Classics and Archaeology and says that this was an important factor in her decision to pursue a PhD at Birkbeck.
Although it had been a long time since Lucy's first degree, she had done several courses and written assignments since then, so returning to study wasn't too overwhelming. Nevertheless, she did find it quite nerve-wracking when she had to submit her first piece of work. She comments:
'I was initially more nervous about the research itself, rather than writing it up, but I soon found that I absolutely loved it and my nerves disappeared quite quickly!'
Lucy managed her workload by being very self-disciplined. She had family commitments and was doing voluntary work at the same time as studying for the PhD, so she decided early on that she would set aside two full days a week to focus on the study. However, she explains: 'I set aside two as a guideline – some weeks it would be more and others it might be less. I had to be flexible to make sure I could cover everything that I needed to.'
Although she hadn't anticipated it, Lucy has made some really good friends amongst the other students in the department. She says: 'I found it lovely to be amongst younger people, and also to feel very much accepted as part of the community. The friends I've made range from age 20 to 50. That aspect of studying at Birkbeck has been a real bonus.'
Lucy concludes: 'For me, doing a PhD at this stage was about proving to myself that I could. It's given me a great deal of satisfaction to know that I am capable of this and has given me an ongoing interest in the subject - I'd like to develop part of my thesis further and turn it into a book. Studying at Birkbeck has been a wonderful experience and I would definitely recommend the College to others.'
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